by Ron Price and Stacy Ennis, coauthors of “Growing Influence: A Story of How to Lead with Character, Expertise, and Impact“
One of the long-term challenges of the workplace is how many employees feel powerless. For many years, employee surveys around the world have measured levels of engagement as high as 70% or more. What creates levels of disengagement this high? Is it bad managers, as many experts claim? Many have heard the moniker, people leave bad managers, not bad companies. We believe this is overly simplistic.
Instead, we can point to four different causes for employee disengagement:
1. Bad job fit.
If people are doing work that is more labor than passion, it is very difficult to stay engaged. We appreciate a quote from Simon Sinek: “Working hard fir something we don’t care about is called stress; working hard for something we love is called passion.” We have also discovered that many people have chosen career paths only to discover years later that the work they chose is not satisfying and they feel trapped.
2. A poor supervisor relationship.
There are many reasons for a bad connection with your supervisor/manager. However, the two largest causes of discord are not feeling understood and not feeling valued. And this can go both directions.
3. A cultural mis-alignment.
Your culture may be toxic, or it may just be a culture that moves at a rhythm from you. We talk with employees who are turned off by a high-achievement culture because they prefer a more collaborative, collegial environment. Other employees are disengaged because the culture reflects a steady, slower-paced approach while they want to run fast and hard.
4. Dormant individual influence.
Our experience has been that this is often the least understood and most under-utilized source for engagement. What if your job fit, boss, or organization’s culture are not the primary source of disengagement? What if the #1 cause of disengagement has more to do with your self concept or clarity around pursuing your greatest potential?
How might you release your untapped influence in spite of those things that seem beyond your control. In most instances, people we work with have hidden power that can be engaged through an understanding of three different dimensions of influence.
The first way you can increase your influence at work is by increasing your character. People follow others when they see character traits that are consistent and empowering. How you govern your own behaviors and how you choose to relate to others will increase or decrease your influence in a fundamental way. Do you catch yourself making excuses or blaming others? Or, do you embrace difficulties as learning opportunities? Do you speak about people differently in their absence, or do you make it a point to endorse others when they are not present? One of the first ways to grow your influence and increase the engagement for yourself and others is by your expression of character.
The second way you can amplify your influence is through your expertise — what you know and what you can do. Do you use your expertise to advance your own agenda, or do you use your expertise to create value for others? When you apply and grow your expertise with a clear focus on serving others, your influence and engagement grows.
The third way you can grow your influence is through your positional responsibilities and authority. Of course, most people want more authority and tend to focus on the authority they are lacking instead of thinking creatively about how to make the best use of the authority they have. However, you can optimize the authority you have when you are clear about the rules of your position, maintain a focus on the key results that reflect superior performance, and properly invest in the key relationships that will continue to support superior performance.
Building influence and engagement through character, expertise and position. It doesn’t matter where you are in your career, whether you are just getting started or entering your peak years. Regardless of your level of enthusiasm for your current job, your relationship with your supervisor, or how comfortable you are in your organization’s current culture, by tapping into your potential for influence through the three dimensions of influence, there is a good chance you will have a positive impact on all the other causes of disengagement.
At least, that’s the way we see it.
Ron Price is an internationally recognized business advisor, executive coach, speaker, and author who has worked in fifteen countries and served in nearly every level of executive management over the past forty years. The former president of a multi-million-dollar international company, in 2004 he started Price Associates, a global leadership advisory firm.
Stacy Ennis is a creative consultant, success coach, speaker, and writer, as well as the cofounder of Next Level Women Leaders, a leadership training company. The former executive editor of Healthy Living Made Simple, a magazine reaching roughly 11 million readers, she has written or edited dozens of books, including “The Editor’s Eye: A Practical Guide to Transforming Your Book from Good to Great“.
They are coauthors of “Growing Influence: A Story of How to Lead with Character, Expertise, and Impact“.